Torrens is another one of Preller’s coveted Rule-5 draft picks. The young catcher certainly does have potential, as he is just 20 years old. If he was a pitcher that would be one thing, but the catcher role certainly demands more experience than A-ball. Torrens started out being great offensively early on in his career, but his numbers have certainly dropped since then. Torrens, however, is above average defensively, and that could go a long way for the young backstop. While he is young, Benito Santiago did make his debut at the age of 21. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Venezuelan backstop handles the big leagues in his first taste this spring.
The prize jewel of the Rule-5 draft for Preller and the Padres is Cordoba. The Panamanian infielder has yet to even play in A-ball. In fact, the highest level Cordoba has played is Rookie-Advanced level. Cordoba is definitely a gamble for any team, but for a team like the Padres who are projected to lose over 100 games, it is certainly worth it. The 21-year-old excelled last season in the Appalachian League, batting .362 with a .427 OBP and a .922 OPS, along with 22 stolen bases. The shortstop’s best asset is said to be his bat control, which is often a problem with many young players. It is also an area in which the 2016 Padres struggled, as the team recorded an excessive amount of strikeouts. Cordoba might just be the answer the Padres need to fill the hole at shortstop, which has plagued the team for years.
I have a feeling that we will see Rafael Ortega with the Padres at Petco Park this year. The outfield situation with the Friars is interesting, and Ortega could easily nab the fourth outfield spot over Jabari Blash. It will all come down to spring training, but Ortega does offer a lefty option at the plate and he does also possess good speed. If Ortega fails to make the club out of spring, there’s a good chance he will be in the big leagues at some point in 2017. He has a decent shot a making an impact with the team in 2017.
Yangervis Solarte has third base locked down in San Diego for 2017, but Christian Villanueva is a player that can make his way onto the roster. Villanueva has yet to play in a major league game, but he has performed well in winter league play and at the Triple-A level. At 25, the Mexican infielder is ready to make his mark at the major league level. In 2015 with the Iowa Cubs, Villanueva posted a .259 BA with 18 home runs and 88 RBI. Most recently, Villanueva did great in just 15 games with Yaquis de Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League. The Guadalajara native batted .278 with three home runs, nine RBI and a .359 OBP in just 54 at bats. Villanueva will need to fight for a roster spot come spring, but he does seem like an interesting option.
Since joining the Padres organization in 2015, De Paula has briskly made his way through the San Diego Padres system. De Paula spent 2015 with Lake Elsinore and in 2016 he made his way all the way to El Paso. Now the right-handed pitcher is a legitimate candidate for the Padres bullpen in 2017. De Paula did well with San Antonio in 2016, posting a 2.77 ERA in 37 games. His time in El Paso was limited, as the 25-year-old hurler only got to pitch nine innings at the Triple-A level. The Dominican pitcher excelled in his homeland during the off-season with Toros del Este in the LIDOM. De Paula posted an ERA of 0.00 in nine and two-thirds innings. De Paula may not make the team on opening day, but he does have a chance after a few possible trades within the organization are completed. The Friars bullpen is strong and it is only a matter of time before teams start to come calling.
Michael Dimock may have a slightly better chance to crack the Padres roster and make an impact in 2017 than most on this list. At, 27, Dimock is more than ready to pitch in the majors currently. 2016 was not a great season for Dimock in the minors as he posted a 5.05 ERA with El Paso and San Antonio. 2015, however was great for the 6-foot-2 pitcher, as Dimock posted an ERA of 1.47 in 14 games with the Chihuahuas. Dimock also did spectacular in the LIDOM with Toros del Este, allowing no earned runs in eight and a half innings and a spectacular WHIP of 0.60.
Charles Edward Fisher was a very under-the-radar signing for the Padres this off-season. Most Padres fans probably did not even notice the signing of this 33-year-old reliever. Fisher is the type of player I can see excelling at Petco Park, as he has proved that he can be a reliable right-handed reliever. Most recently, Fisher made the all-star game in the Mexican Pacific League. Fisher finished his LMP campaign with a 1.69 ERA in 30 games with only two home runs allowed. The bullpen battle should be intense this spring, but Fisher should be seen in a San Diego Padres uniform this year.
The final guy that is worth noting is 25-year-old pitcher, Bryan Rodriguez. The 6-foot-5 pitcher has not looked great as a starter in the minors, but making a transition to a reliever could prove to be a wise career choice. Rodriguez has killed it this off-season in the LIDOM with Gigantes del Cibao. In 18 and a third innings, the lanky pitcher has posted an ERA of 0.49 with a 0.82 WHIP. Rodriguez may find himself in the bullpen at some point in 2017 as a long-man.
The Padres keep on making signings, and the position battles are becoming more intense. The current roster is not lacking depth in certain areas. Padres fans should be in for an intense spring training, and with that, an interesting 2017 season. Go Padres!